Year 4, Month 2, Day 5: We Just Got One Thing To Say To All Of You F**king Hippies…

The Wichita Eagle (KS) reprints the recent Op-Ed on major threats from Jim Yong Kim:

The world’s top priority must be to get finance flowing and get prices right on all aspects of energy costs to support low-carbon growth. Achieving a predictable price on carbon that accurately reflects real environmental costs is key to delivering emission reductions at scale. Correct energy pricing can also provide incentives for investments in energy efficiency and cleaner energy technologies.

A second immediate step is to end harmful fuel subsidies globally, which could lead to a 5 percent fall in emissions by 2020. Countries spend more than $500 billion annually in fossil-fuel subsidies and an additional $500 billion in other subsidies, often related to agriculture and water, that ultimately are environmentally harmful. That trillion dollars could be put to better use for the jobs of the future, social safety nets or vaccines.

A third focus is on cities. The largest 100 cities that contribute 67 percent of energy-related emissions are both the center of innovation for green growth and the most vulnerable to climate change. We have seen great leadership, for example, in New York and Rio de Janeiro on low-carbon growth and tackling practices that fuel climate change.

At the World Bank Group, through the $7 billion-plus Climate Investment Funds, we are managing forests, spreading solar energy and promoting green expansion for cities, all with a goal of stopping global warming. We also are in the midst of a major re-examination of our own practices and policies.

I rewrote the letter I sent to the WaPo a few days ago, and sent it on January 27:

Watching conservative lawmakers who no longer face elections reveals a great deal about our dysfunctional political process. When California Republican David Dreier retired recently, he took the opportunity to tell his colleagues that “climate change is a fact of life.” Fine words — especially from someone cast countless votes against meaningful environmental legislation during his career. While it’s no secret that America’s political system is well and thoroughly broken, when it comes to climate change, our systemic corruption and cowardice may well have catastrophic repercussions.

Now that he’s out of office, Mr. Dreier can agree that we need robust and immediate action on climate change, but as long as corporations continue to exert disproportionate influence on our political system, Senators and Representatives will attend to the needs of their paymasters before those of their constituents and their posterity. If they’re serious about fighting the threat of climate change, perhaps the best option for Jim Yong Kim and the World Bank would be to purchase the Republican Party. There’s no doubt it’s for sale.

Warren Senders

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 2, Day 1: Another Country Heard From

Perhaps as atonement for publishing thousands and thousands of words from George Will, the Washington Post runs an op-ed from Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank.

The weather in Washington has been like a roller coaster this January. Yes, there has been a deep freeze this week, but it was the sudden warmth earlier in the month that was truly alarming. Flocks of birds — robins, wrens, cardinals and even blue jays – swarmed bushes with berries, eating as much as they could. Runners and bikers wore shorts and T-shirts. People worked in their gardens as if it were spring.

The signs of global warming are becoming more obvious and more frequent. A glut of extreme weather conditions is appearing globally. And the average temperature in the United States last year was the highest ever recorded.

As economic leaders gathered in Davos this week for the World Economic Forum, much of the conversation was about finances. But climate change should also be at the top of our agendas, because global warming imperils all of the development gains we have made.

If there is no action soon, the future will become bleak. The World Bank Group released a reportin November that concluded that the world could warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) by the end of this century if concerted action is not taken now.

Just another hippie, ya know. Slackers. Sent January 25:

As reports, assessments, and analyses on the clear and present danger presented by a runaway greenhouse effect appear in the national spotlight, Republicans (and a few Democrats) have to work harder than ever to stay ignorant. Interestingly, once lawmakers no longer face electoral battles for their conservative constituencies, they’re sometimes willing to admit the grim realities, as witness retiring California Republican David Dreier’s statement to his erstwhile colleagues that “climate change is a fact of life.”

The arguments for robust and immediate action on climate change are overwhelming, but the sad truth of the matter is that massive amounts of corporate cash control our political system, ensuring that it will continue to respond poorly (at best) to genuine dangers. If Jim Yong Kim and the World Bank really want to fight climate change, perhaps they should simply purchase the Republican Party, lock, stock, and barrel. After all, it’s for sale.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 1, Day 27: Long As I Keep Drivin’, I’ll Keep Surviving…?

McClatchy’s Erika Bolstad writes on the World Bank’s move towards supporting more mass transportation infrastructure:

WASHINGTON — There’s an unexpected method governments can use to reduce poverty, improve public health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, top world leaders said Friday.

Their idea: Make transportation in the world’s megacities more available and sustainable to reduce congestion and benefit populations – and economies – that are projected to boom in the coming decades.

Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, said Friday at a global transportation conference that working on sustainable transportation is part of the bank’s moral responsibility and will be a major focus of its lending in the coming years. Lifting people out of poverty is the bank’s chief mission, Kim said. But climate change caused by global warming threatens that mission, he said, particularly for future generations.

The bank recently issued a report that outlines what the world could be like if temperatures rise by 7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2060. It’s sometimes difficult for people to understand that, Kim said, but he offered the example of his own 3-year-old-son.

“To put it very bluntly . . . when he’s my age, he’ll be living in a world where the oceans will be 150 percent more acidic, the coral reefs will have all been melted away, the fisheries would have been completely disturbed, and probably every single day, there will be food fights and water fights all over the world,” he said. “The world that I’m literally handing over to him as an adult will be one that does not exist today. For me it’s very real.”

Time to put Kerouac to bed. It wouldn’t be the same if he’d written it about riding a bus, I suppose. Sent January 20:

There are few aspects of modern civilization more baffling than our continued reliance on automobiles for every aspect of our transportation. An intelligent alien watching humanity would no doubt wonder why we spend so much time sitting in heavy metal boxes many times our own weight, often moving no faster than a slow strolling pace — and why those metal boxes seem trigger frequent episodes of rage, competition and conspicuous wastefulness.

Once, the automobile represented the most tangible aspects of the American Dream: the freedom to travel, the siren call of the open road. Now, the full impact of our consumption of fossil fuels is making an environmental nightmare, and it’s clear that we must put the brakes on the accelerating greenhouse effect before careening, Thelma-and-Louise style, over the climate cliff. It’s time for a massive national investment in public transportation, for we cannot drive recklessly into the twenty-first century.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 25: Blind Pigs And All That

Usually I have almost nothing but contempt for the World Bank, the IMF and the other tentacles of the global vampire squid. But as the September 21st issue of the Washington Post tells us, they’ve got something right:

AMSTERDAM — Global financial institutions are recommending raising money to fight climate change by trimming subsidies for fossil fuels, putting a price tag of $25 per ton on carbon emissions and collecting a surcharge on aviation and shipping fuels.

The recommendations are part of a draft paper by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other international groups prepared for a meeting Friday in Washington of G20 finance and development ministers. It was leaked prematurely and distributed Wednesday by aid agencies.

The ministers of the world’s 20 largest economies are responding to a commitment to channel $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to global warming and develop low-carbon economies.

But Republicans won’t eat acorns, no matter what. Sent Sept. 21:

If the recommendations from the World Bank and the IMF actually gain traction in the policy-making sectors of government, it would mark a sea-change in political approaches to the climate crisis. Their suggestions err only on in being too conservative; fossil fuel prices should reflect the true cost of these commodities, including not only the long-term mitigation of their health and environmental effects but all those expensive wars we fight to protect our sources. When these factors are taken into account it is evident that burning carbon is an exceptionally costly to fuel a civilization.

A price on carbon likewise cries out for implementation. A “fee-and-dividend” scheme would return monies directly to consumers, partially offsetting increased energy costs.

Alas, Washington is unlikely to respond meaningfully to these recommendations. As Mr. Clinton remarked, GOP-induced policy paralysis and reflexive climate denialism makes America a joke in the eyes of the world.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 9, Day 20: We Do Not Think About Things We Do Not Think About!

The September 13 Boston Globe runs an AP article on climate change’s impact on Africa:

JOHANNESBURG—International climate change negotiators in Africa later this year will be looking back on the famine now sweeping eastern parts of the continent, and ahead to predictions that climate change will hurt Africa’s future food production, a World Bank expert said Tuesday.

“The challenges are overwhelming,” Andrew Steer, the World Bank’s special envoy on climate change, said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“Africa needs to triple food production by 2050,” he said. “At the same time, you’ve got climate change lowering average yields …. So, of course, we need something different.”

We live in the USA. We don’t need to think about these things.

Sent September 16:

US citizens, isolated by geography from many of the most immediately devastating effects of global warming, don’t take the climate crisis as seriously as it deserves. But Africa’s future on a climate-changed planet is deeply troubling to contemplate, and it offers us a glimpse of what the coming decades and centuries hold for all of us.

Increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather will impact American agriculture severely: the combination of unseasonal storms and giant factory farms spells food shortages and spiking prices. Our already crumbling infrastructure will also be subjected to enormously greater stresses; the days of taking our roads, water systems, power lines and other public works for granted are going to end very soon.

While Africa’s agony may seem far away, it offers a disturbing preview of coming attractions in a warming world. We must no longer avert our gaze as the climate crisis assumes profound humanitarian dimensions.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 6, Day 16: True Crime Comics

The Gray Lady heralds the news that Paul Wolfowitz’ erstwhile stamping ground has decided to get involved. That’s good news, I suppose. The Big Dog certainly thinks so:

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The World Bank signed an agreement on Wednesday with mayors from 40 of the world’s biggest cities to work on technical and financial assistance for projects to minimize the effects of climate change.

The deal, announced at the C40 large cities climate meeting here, will ease access to financing for climate-change-reduction projects. It was hailed by many of the mayors, including Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City, and by former President Bill Clinton, who attended the event as part of a new partnership with Mr. Bloomberg.

“The World Bank announcement is terrifically important,” Mr. Clinton said. “It will give credibility to these projects to get private capital.”

But there’s only one thing that can change a denialist’s mind.

Sent June 2:

The World Bank’s support of climate change mitigation projects cannot reverse the accelerating consequences of the greenhouse effect — despite the prodigious technical and intellectual resources of our civilization, we haven’t yet figured out ways to evade the laws of physics. Still, the Bank’s announcement is a positive development, both because it will spur much-needed investments in ecologically wise urban planning, and because it will make it that much harder for the climate denialists and oil profiteers in America’s dysfunctional political system to continue rationalizing their unwillingness to address the issue with spurious economic arguments. While environmental reasons will never spur Republican legislators to address climate change, once renewable energy and sustainable development are really where the money is, Willie Sutton’s oft-quoted motivation may just do the trick.

Warren Senders